Vision in an Age of Triage

April 20, 2020 Joe Britto

Reading time: about 3 minutes.

It might feel premature to be thinking about what your business looks like in six months from now. Covid-19 is leaving death and sickness in its wake. And it’s also causing financial disaster. The growing unrest in places like Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia highlight the real fear some people feel for their financial futures.

This blog is about what we as business leaders can do to help our businesses, local economies, and countries rise out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Practical Altruism

If that feels altruistic to you, remember that without healthy local, national, and international economies our businesses have no one to sell to. Keeping an eye on the bigger picture when we have our own struggles to deal with may be asking a lot. But as we keep hearing, we’re in this together. Together is also how we avoid the worst of the financial effects of coronavirus.

Think of this as practical altruism, because all of our futures depend on it. And if that doesn’t work for you, it may help you to know that if you’re not thinking beyond triage, you’re already behind the curve.

A Time for Triage

Triage in a medical context means prioritizing care based on the extent of injury. The more severe the condition, the quicker it gets attention. In the business world it means giving immediate attention to elements that will have the biggest negative impact on our business.

As soon as coronavirus had measurable effects in our towns, most businesses started to triage. In last week’s blog I talked about some of the methods we employed: cutting back on staff and reducing costs were just two tools in the triage arsenal.

Last week, I talked about how some of those steps were premature; based on the assumption that traditional ways of handling a decline in business was the way to go.

I’m not giving anyone a hard time for triaging their business. If our business was bleeding, we had to stop that bleeding if there’s any hope we’d survive. Nobody gets knocked for that.

But now we need something else. Because sitting in an endless space of triage begins to look a lot like reacting to events rather than working toward a defined strategy.

A Time for Vision

Though coronaviruses will always be with us, the current situation won’t. That’s why we need to be thinking about what happens after. Having a vision now gives us the chance to create our future rather than be subject to whatever unfolds.

Talk of vision is commonplace in business. It’s a third of the triumvirate of mission, vision, and values so popular in leadership training. But vision is so much more and we need it today.

In its simplest form, a visionary is someone who can see or imagine a different future. At a time when some businesses are booming because of Covid-19 (Amazon could be making as much as $10,000 a second), while many small businesses are struggling; a visionary is someone who can see beyond the headlines.

Those leaders recognize that how they react now, determines the viability of their business six months from now. They’re aware that joining the herd and adjusting the way everyone is adjusting, means they’ll get lost in the noise. They know that nothing is permanent. And they know that when the dust settles, the businesses that envisioned a post-pandemic world will be ready to recover when recovery is possible.

Being Visionary

But what if you don’t see yourself as visionary? What happens then?

The good news is that we are all capable of seeing more than six feet in front of us. In the current situation the unknown is scary and leaves many wanting to cling to what they know, or what others in their sector are doing. After all, if everyone’s doing it, it must be right, right? It reminds me of that adage from the 1980s: “No one gets fired for buying IBM”.

That “safety in numbers” mindset is the opposite of vision. Being willing to ask the tough questions sets us on the road to visionary answers.

To get you started, ask yourself one question: What would your business look like six months into recovery if it were still viable?

Avoid answering with “We’d be generating pre-pandemic revenue”. Instead, think about how you’re adjusting now. How are you helping or harming your business’s reputation? How has your product line changed? Do those products generate enough revenue to see you through the pandemic? If so, can you build on that? If not, what needs to change?

The first step on the road to vision is courage. The second is a willingness to act on that courage. Combine those two steps and we have the ability to lead ourselves, our people, and our businesses into a post-pandemic future.

Help if You Need It

At Innate Leaders, we’d like to help leaders develop new ways of thinking to help reduce layoffs, maintain supply chains, and address their business challenges, so businesses and people are financially viable six months from now.

If you’re a business who is struggling financially to adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ll offer our expertise for free via video-conferencing to help you develop a mid-term strategy, or rethink how you do business.

If you’re in a position to support this endeavor we’d welcome a contribution, but if not, we’ll provide our services for free. There’s no criteria to fulfill. Just contact us and we’ll do whatever we can to help.


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